It was almost 10 years after Sri Lanka, the Paradise Island -as it is often addressed was over with its civil war, earned the title of the ‘Best Country’ in the world to travel in 2019 by Lonely Planet. This South-Asian island was chosen for the top spot in the guidebook publisher’s annual Best in Travel Awards as a result of its better and improved transport facilities, new-attractive hotels and a flourishing number of interesting activities that kept both, adults and the children well-entertained throughout their stay and visit around the nation. Sri Lanka’s tourist visits have observed to have increased dramatically since its 26-year conflict from 447,890 in 2009 to a high of 2.1 million last year, a figure the Sri Lankan Tourism Development Authority hoped to double by 2020. Additionally, by next month, Sri Lanka was expected to mark and celebrate a successful 10-year anniversary of peace and harmony since the end of its civil war. Unfortunately, that was not it! An unexpected consecutive series of massive bombings occurred on April 21, shattering the whole nation and its people including a large number of tourists who were present to celebrate Easter in various beautiful churches of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s first heartbreaking massacre of this kind in a very long time resulted in a number of peoples’ death and left hundreds injured as a result of a number of massive explosions across the country on Easter Sunday. This all-of-a-sudden attack took place in various locations of the country simultaneously including three churches in different locations and three of the 5-star hotels in the Capital city of Sri Lanka, Colombo.
The churches that were attacked include:
- St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade
- St. Sebastian’s church in the nearby city of Negombo
- Zion Church in the eastern city of Batticaloa
The three 5-star luxurious hotels that were attacked include:
- The Shangri-La
- Cinnamon Grand
- Kingsbury Hotel
There were 2 other additional bombings that took place later on the same day, in front of the Dehiwala Zoo, a hotel in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia and a house in Mahawila Gardens in Dematagoda.
That sums up to a total of 8 bombings, 6 that took place consecutively one after the other from 8.00 am to 8.45 am and 2 others that happened with a gap of one hour later that afternoon. At least 138 people were reported to have died including 13 foreigners earlier. The death toll then increased to 140 after the seventh bombing happened, taking away the lives of three policemen. The Colombo National Hospital has reported 50 fatalities, 25 in Batticaloa and at least 62 people have died in the City of Negombo. Currently, the death toll has been reported to be around 207 with more than 400 people who are injured and are battling between life and death in various hospitals around the nation.
It is very heartbreaking to see the hashtag #PrayForSriLanka and #EasterAttackSL trending on Twitter on this important holy day of Christians all around the world who were supposed to be celebrating peacefully on this specific day. Sri Lankan citizens living in the nation including the ones abroad and a number of foreigners including many other presidents, sports-players and celebrities, regardless of their religion and different ethnicities, have expressed their heartfelt condolences to Sri Lanka and the families of those who were affected by the unexpected terrible attacks all over Twitter.
Saddened to hear about the terror attacks in Sri Lanka. Sending love and blessings to all those effected. #PrayForPeace
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) April 21, 2019
Extremely saddened by the news coming in from Sri Lanka. Makes you question humanity… thoughts and prayers with all those affected #PrayForSriLanka
— Baby Bedi (@sonakshisinha) April 21, 2019
Terrorists are those who betray worshippers in their places of worship, plant fear in their hearts and try to ignite religious conflicts in societies. Our condolences to the people of Sri Lanka, to the world and to everyone who works tirelessly towards tolerance and coexistence. pic.twitter.com/w1Kw5L489N
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) April 21, 2019
According to Daily Mirror reports, the authorities have revealed that the six explosions occurred this morning were suicide attacks. At Shangri-La hotel, CCTV footage showed two men detonating C4 explosives weighing 25kg at the cafeteria and corridor. Sources also confirmed that the investigators who broke into the room of the suspects in Shangri-La recovered materials used by radical extremists. Further investigations based on this are being carried out as it is yet unclear if the suicide bombers were locals or international tourists who arrived on tourist visas. Furthermore, according to the CNA reports, a hotel official at the Cinnamon Grand hotel also said a suicide bomber blew himself up at the people at the facility’s restaurant. These two pieces of information make it clear that the bombings were suicide bombers attack, just not sure about why they did it and which group do these culprits belong to as yet.
While investigators and government authorities are still doing their best to find out who exactly, which group is the reason behind these massive explosions and have also arrested 7 suspects without disclosing who or what groups they belonged to, sadly a few Indian Media outlets have already labelled ‘Muslims’ as the culprits and are observed to be passing unauthentic news all around social media awakening hatred towards Muslims from the general public. Besides, a few other people have been blaming Buddhists once again with meaningless, unauthentic reasonings simply which only seem to result in arguments and unnecessary attacks among different groups of people with different ethnicities belonging to the SAME SINGLE nation.
Indian media outlets are already identifying Muslims to be responsible for Sri Lanka terrorist attack, despite fact neither Sri Lankan government nor the country's media has named a single suspect.
— CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) April 21, 2019
Terrible that messages blaming “Islamic extremism” are already circulating. Before people unfamiliar with Sri Lanka jump to conclusions – the country has a long history of attacks against Christian targets by the Buddhist majority – most recent just a few days ago.
— Mario Arulthas (@MarioArul) April 21, 2019
Sri Lankan government has further announced holidays until Wednesday for all the schools across Sri Lanka due to security concerns and also reported that passengers departing from Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) will need to be present at the airport at least four hours prior to their departure time, to account for extra security processes. They also made it very clear about how only passengers will be allowed to enter the airport. Authorities have also announced that police in Sri Lanka will impose an island-wide curfew starting from 6 p.m Sunday evening to 6 a.m Monday morning.
Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe claimed that there had been intelligence reports warning of a potential terror attack, which the law enforcement authorities failed to investigate properly as a result of which all these bombings took place successfully, destroying so many innocent lives today.
We must look into why adequate precautions were not taken. Neither I nor the Ministers were kept informed, he said.
Police authorities have lastly confirmed that they have arrested a number of people who were suspected without disclosing any further accurate details about them to the media as yet, and they also reported to have found a house in Panadura which was suspected to be allegedly used by the culprits involved in these attacks. All we can do is wait until the authorities find out the real culprit behind these heartless, earth-shattering massacre that led to the death and extreme injuries to so many innocent lives and bring justice to the victims of Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday Attack.
Special thanks to Nuha Faiz for helping gather reliable sources regarding this incident.
Featured Image: Twitter